Tue 9th Dec 2014
Firms urged to seize the opportunities brought by Corporation Tax
Over 100 of Northern Ireland’s leading businesses joined Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) and A&L Goodbody at Belfast’s Merchant Hotel this morning to hear how to ‘seize the opportunity’ and plan for changes that devolved corporation powers will bring to the region.
The case for devolution of Corporation Tax varying powers to the Assembly was emphatically made over the past number of years, supported by all business organisations and all major political parties in Northern Ireland. Leading business figures have now urged the Executive to move quickly to ensure Northern Ireland moves into a new era of economic growth.
Speakers at the event included Kevin Stephens, Finance Director at Almac; Patrick McAliskey, Managing Director of Novosco; Sean McGreevy, Group Finance Officer at Fane Valley and Mark Thompson, Partner at A&L Goodbody, who outlined how their companies are currently preparing for the devolving of the powers.
Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of NI Chamber, outlined a number of positive developments that are expected to arise in the Northern Ireland economy as a result of the reduction in Corporation Tax rates in Northern Ireland including new FDI; improved profitability; improved spending levels and increased employment. She said:
“It is recognised that changing the rate will not in itself transform the Northern Ireland economy in the short term. It will however create an opportunity for private sector growth, more employment (potentially 50,000 jobs) and in the longer term, a more balanced economy in Northern Ireland.
“The Corporation Tax environment presents a huge opportunity in the immediate future for Northern Ireland to accelerate the growth of its private sector and reduce its dependence on the UK taxpayer to maintain standards of living. It will bring new firms to the region, transform existing ones and increase the region’s outward focus and international connectivity.”
She continued: “A change in the corporation tax regime is likely to lead to a period of transition, as existing companies adapt to the change and new companies enter the market. The new tax regime is expected to change the employment market within Northern Ireland, with a need for more skilled staff to fill higher paid jobs. Employee mobility will increase and businesses will need to review contractual arrangements to both retain and incentivise staff loyalty, protect intellectual property and confidential information and drive efficiencies in service levels.
“Demand for Grade A office and industrial space is likely to intensify. As such, consideration should be given to the basis on which your business occupies its current premises, the implications on any pending rent reviews, the expiry of current lease terms and capacity to expand into additional space if required.
“Infrastructure investment in transport hubs, airport access and better and faster links to Dublin must also become a priority. Also, given the competition for labour in certain key sectors and occupations like ICT and engineering, shortages are likely to appear relatively quickly in Northern Ireland.”
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster said:
“For too long the status quo, with vital economic levers concentrated in Whitehall, has not served Northern Ireland well. This is why securing these powers has been a key priority for a number of years and we are now closer than ever to delivering this.
“A wide range of evidence has shown there are economic benefits to lowering the rate of Corporation Tax here. The reason for gaining these powers has always been to stimulate economic activity within our private sector. Reducing Corporation Tax would be a major rebalancing from the public to private sector with the public sector becoming smaller and the private sector larger with ultimately a bigger overall economy. With the Autumn statement there are strong incentives to deliver a positive outcome from the ongoing talks and devolve Corporation Tax powers helping us to attract new investment and jobs to Northern Ireland.”
Mark Thompson, Partner at leading law firm A&L Goodbody said:
“Changing the rate of corporation tax will create opportunities for private sector growth, more employment and in the longer term, a more balanced economy in Northern Ireland. New competition for business and for talent will change the business environment for virtually all NI enterprises. Therefore strategic planning is important for businesses to prepare for the future.”